France to crack down on unauthorised protests, Europe News & Top Stories

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Many Yellow Vest demonstrators point to a video showing a police captain beating protesters in the southern city of Toulon at the weekend - and their heavy use of teargas and rubber bullets - to support their claim that the violence runs both ways.

Seven weeks into rebellion marked by weekly clashes in Paris and other French cities, Mr Philippe said the government would introduce a "new law punishing those who do not respect the requirement to declare (protests), those who take part in unauthorised demonstrations and those who arrive at demonstrations wearing face masks".

The onus would be on "the troublemakers, and not taxpayers, to pay for the damage caused" to businesses and property during the protests, the premier added.

Numerous protesters are demanding that the centrist President Emmanuel Macron to resign, which is dismissed as undemocratic by the government.

Several men driving a forklift truck also smashed open the doors to the ministry building of government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux in Paris, who denounced the break-in as an "unacceptable attack on the Republic".

The French premier asserted that 80,000 members of security forces will be deployed at the countrywide protests to take place Saturday.

The police at times appeared defenceless, with former heavyweight fighter Christophe Dettinger filmed landing blows on officers guarding a bridge leading to the National Assembly.

Christophe Dettinger turned himself in to police on Monday.

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The "yellow vest" movement mobilized through social media has forced Macron to reconsider his economic and social recipe for the eurozone's No.2 power by offering a series of concessions to appease angry citizens.

Recent surveys suggest 75 per cent of the public oppose his government's policies and 60 per cent were unimpressed by his New Year message, in which he said he understood popular anger but remained committed to his reform programme.

Mr Philippe told TF1 television, "Today, if we want to defend the freedom to demonstrate... we must evolve our law and supplement our legislative system".

Protesters plan to empty their bank accounts on Saturday, withdrawing as much money as possible in a bid to undermine the French banks - if not the euro itself.

De Maio implored the Yellow Vest movement to ignore the French elite speaking down to them.

Leaders of Italy's ruling coalition - the far-right Matteo Salvini and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement's Luigi Di Maio - have expressed solidarity, though this can also be seen in the context of soured relations between Rome and the Elysee Palace.

The spat between the two countries threatens to worsen European Union political and economic divisions as each country exploits the other's political and socio-economic tensions while underscoring the increasingly sour relations between Paris and Rome.

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